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‘Great Energy’ but Uneven Buying at Satellite Fairs

Satellite contemporary-art fairs timed to coincide with the The Armory Show drew their share of crowds and created buzz all around New York City, from Pulse New York on the Lower West Side (also on a pier on the Hudson River) to Scope New York in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center to Volta NY in

NEW YORK—Satellite contemporary-art fairs timed to coincide with the The Armory Show drew their share of crowds and created buzz all around New York City, from Pulse New York on the Lower West Side (also on a pier on the Hudson River) to Scope New York in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center to Volta NY in Midtown Manhattan. Results at the various satellite fairs were uneven, with some dealers reporting brisk sales and even sold-out shows, while others said sales and interest were quiet compared with previous years.

An invitational show curated by critics Amanda Coulson and Christian Viveros-Fauné, Volta NY dedicated each booth to the work of one artist. The New York edition originated with the Volta fair in Basel, Switzer­land, which was launched in 2005 in a former electric plant on the Rhine to coincide with the annual Art Basel. Volta is now owned by Merchandise Mart Properties, the same company that acquired the Armory Show last year (and acquired Art Chicago in 2006), and is billed as a “sister fair” to the Armory Show.

At Volta, FAS, London, exhibited “All The President’s Girls,” a series of oil-on-paper portraits by British artist Annie Kevans of mistresses of U.S. presidents, including Monica Lewinsky and Marilyn Monroe. In all, 41 were sold by the end of the fair, including more than a dozen by afternoon on March 5, the opening day of the fair. An adjacent booth, also organized by FAS, featured work by Gavin Turk, including a suite of watercolors of mushroom clouds that allude to atomic blasts, priced at $2,000 each, and The Font Project, a sculpture priced at $19,500. FAS reported no sales of Turk’s work by the end of the fair.

Patrick Gibson, a director of Paradise Row, London, showed comic-book-influenced paintings by Russian artist Gosha Ostretsov, who will represent Russia in the 2009 Venice Biennale. Gibson said four of the seven works on view were sold to U.S. and Russian collectors for prices in the range of $11,000/16,000. Schuebbe Projects, Düsseldorf, did well with dark portrait paintings by German artist Christian Schoeler. “We had amazing feedback and were sold out by Sunday,” said assistant director Johannes Hoerning. In all, 27 works were sold to private collectors and three U.S. museums, he said, for prices in the range of $3,200/9,500. Volta organizers reported 18,000 visitors to the fair over its four-day run, more than double the 8,000 visitors fair officials reported last year.

Amid a slightly more subdued atmosphere at Scope on the Upper West Side, organizers reported attendance of 17,000, compared with 15,000 last year. Mike Weiss Gallery, New York, reported it sold out of works by Yigal Ozeri, the largest sale for $70,000, and of paintings by Allison Schulnik, the biggest sale being for $18,500. David B. Smith Gallery, Denver, reported selling two acrylics on panel by Josh Keyes, Flutter and Scorch, both 2009, for $4,500 each. Helmut Schuster, of Galerie Schuster, Frankfurt and Berlin, reported the sale of a photo by Juliane Eirich for $6,000.

Pulse drew a steady stream of visitors on Friday, March 6, its second evening. Organizers said that total attendance was 17,000, up from more than 12,000 last year. Standouts at the fair included two booths devoted to single artists: Mark Moore, Los Angeles, sold out of heavily painted canvases depicting clowns, hobos and monkeys, and oversize, ­primitive-looking ceramic heads by Schulnik. Moore told ARTnewsletter he sold 12 paintings and two sculptures, most for prices under $20,000, to collectors in New York, Panama, Asia, Canada, France and Germany. Ken Tyburski, a director of DCKT Contem­porary, New York, described a similar experience with the work of Cordy Ryman. Seven of the ten paintings and sculptures in the booth sold on the first day, Tyburski told ARTnewsletter, for prices of $3,000/10,000.

Dealer Wendy Olsoff, co-owner of P.P.O.W., New York, on the other hand, said that despite “great energy,” she noted more caution on the part of visitors. “A lot of collectors felt uncomfortable and didn’t want to engage in conversation. It’s a readjustment—that’s okay,” said Olsoff, who added that the gallery made just five sales, including two large drawings by George Boorujy for $8,000 each and a few other works in the $1,500 range.

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